Re-entry Events– Shopping

“WOW! This store sells EVERYTHING!”

I smiled as my daughter experienced that joy of entering Target for her first conscious time.

Yes, honey. Yes, it does.

That glorious feeling of entering a store, located on one enormous floor where you can purchase socks, noodles and dish soap and even appliances all in one stop.

It’s absolutely wonderful. Given our tight quarters in dense Tokyo, we’re used to escalators, stairs and lines for the elevator at “department stores”… separate registers for separate floors and all the rest.

While it’s so convenient, it’s also a wee bit overwhelming. It’s a favorite “event” for me– one that requires patience on the behalf of family and friends.

Let’s take a moment to think about this.

Imagine yourself walking into a foreign market. You could imagine yourself walking into a Japanese supermarket. Or if you’re familiar with that, say- an Indian supermarket. Or an outdoor market in South America.

Now, you need to meal plan for a week and buy all your household goods– toiletries, laundry goods, kleenex, etc. And your kid needs to contribute a cleaning rag to the school and that’s due tomorrow.

True story.

Anyway, how long do you think that’s going to take you?

Is that salt… or sugar? Pork? Beef? Oh wait, a picture of a cow. Ok, beef.

Will this work as a substitute for what I was thinking?

What kind of meal should I use this vegetable in? Do they sell frozen carrots or should I get fresh?

You get the picture. You’re going to be walking those aisles awhile.

Well, surprisingly, as long as you think it’s going to take you in that store is how long it takes me when we come back to the States. Back in Japan, I can get in and out of the stores fairly quickly. (Well… my husband might debate that one…) but I’m pretty familiar now with my options, opportunities and limitations.

Here though… I stand in the aisle of box meals or snacks and I stare. Then I turn 90 degrees, stare down at my list and turn back to the shelves and look up again blankly…. leave the aisle and decide to try again later.

And don’t even get me started on the lotion aisle.

What’s the difference between all these options? How much do I need? Should we take some back with us? Which is the best deal? Is it better to get cheap or is it better to get something in the middle? And oh, what is that??

I feel like I am the foreigner in my own favorite stores and it takes time to get reacquainted and try to ride that bike again.